Miami Herald Article
Children's advocates hope to rescue underage Super Bowl sex slaves
Outreach workers carry a small, glossy pamphlet filled with the pictures of missing teenagers. They are black and white and Hispanic, blonde and auburn and braided. The booklet includes a short introduction from the family of Amber Dubois, a 15-year-old Escondido, Calif. girl who vanished on Feb. 13, 2009, a short distance from her high school: "I am a football fan, but this Super Bowl, the champions will not be the Colts or the Saints for me. It will be your search team. For every girl you find and rescue, it will be a game-winning touchdown all over again.''
The message was written by 70-year-old Sheila Welch, Amber's grandmother.
"To think that something that is supposed to be all-American, the sport of our country, actually has an underground of sex trafficking is horrible,'' Welch told The Miami Herald.
The girls pictured in the handbook "all look like babies,'' Welch said. "But they are not babies anymore. They lost their childhood.''
For the outreach workers, reaching their targets is not an easy job. Novicki calls them "a tough crowd.''
Said volunteer Eddy Ameen, the executive director of StandUp For Kids -- Miami: "We are not seen as saviors.''
The girls the group encounters are street-wise, distrustful, hardened and fearful of strangers -- who can get them beaten if the girl's pimp feels threatened. Some girls view their pimps as family: someone who fed them, clothed them, loved them when no one else would.
"Nobody is saying, `Thank goodness you came and saved me,' '' Novicki said. But on a good day, a girl may take the group's card and hang onto it. Some time later, she said -- maybe after a beating or a night of particularly rough sex -- a girl may find the card and use it.
The pimps do not give up easily -- and for good reason.
The National Center estimates there are between 100,000 and 150,000 underaged sex workers who generate billions of dollars in revenue for their pimps. The girls can travel around the country in "circuits.'' Authorities contend the enterprise is controlled by organized crime.
So far this week, three children have been recovered by a missing kid specialist with a South Florida foster care agency, Skelaney said.
For Carrie McGonigle, Amber Dubois' mother, finding her daughter as a sex worker would be a blessing, because all the other possibilities are arguably worse. McGonigle, who works for a printer, published the glossy pamphlets volunteers are using to identify missing kids in Miami.
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